UAE schools and universities to hold virtual graduations this year

Ajman University is set to organise a drive-through graduation for the second year in a row as education chiefs get creative to honour pupils and students

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Private schools and universities in the UAE will host online and drive-through graduation ceremonies to give learners the opportunity to celebrate their achievements.

Education leaders said it was a necessary step to ensure the safety of the Class of 2021 amid the Covid-19 pandemic.

It is the second year that schools and universities have decided to get creative to honour pupils and students.

The Knowledge and Human Development Authority in Dubai said schools were not permitted to hold in-person ceremonies on campus.

This year, we are positive that by November students will be able to enjoy an in-person graduation

"Maintaining health and safety is everyone's responsibility," the education regulator.

“Protocols aimed at protecting students and staff include limiting gatherings and suspending or putting group activities online, such as school celebrations, and sports events."

Pali Nahal, acting vice principal at Uptown International School in Dubai, said efforts were being made to ensure pupils could enjoy their graduation at the same time - even at a distance from their own homes.

Footage would be recorded in advance – and in line with social distancing – to help replicate the graduation ceremony as closely as possible.

"We have been informed that in-person graduations cannot go ahead this year," she said.

“Instead, we are pre-recording all footage in school while adhering to safety protocols and will be livestreaming the event on June 5."

On the day, 56 Year 12 pupils will watch the event from their homes.

Schools will not be able to hold in-person graduation ceremonies even if pupils are vaccinated.

Greenfield International School employed a videographer to compile footage for a virtual graduation ceremony to be sent to pupils on May 27.

Families could sit together to watch the video ceremony which will include speeches, presentations and individual clips of pupils dressed in gowns and caps receiving their high school diplomas.

Ceremonies move online in Sharjah

Private schools in Sharjah are not permitted to organise in-person events.

This includes graduation ceremonies, which must be held virtually, Sharjah Private Education Authority confirmed.

"This is to preserve the health and safety of pupils and staff and is in line with the guidelines booklet issued regarding the precautionary measures put in place to prevent the spread of Covid-19," the regulator said.

Gems Millenium School Sharjah held an in-person graduation in April, weeks before the ruling.

Teresa Varman, principal at Gems Millennium School Sharjah, said 108 pupils attended graduation ceremonies in four batches.

Final-year pupils attended the on-campus graduation ceremony, which included farewell speeches.

"We held a graduation ceremony because most of them had taken the vaccine," said Ms Varman.

Pupils who had not been vaccinated were required to go for Covid-19 tests to attend the event.

Close to 60 per cent of the pupils had already been vaccinated.

Pupils had the chance to don their graduation gowns and mark the end of their school life.

"The ceremony was symbolic rather than celebratory. There was no food, partying or music. It was about giving our pupils blessings and handing them their scrolls," she said.

Ms Varman said graduations were important as they marked the end of a 14-year-journey through school.

Rishikesh Padegaonkar, principal of Bright Riders School in Mohamed Bin Zayed City, Abu Dhabi, said Grade 12 pupils would most likely have a virtual graduation in June.

University chief hopeful of in-person graduation this year

Ajman University organised a dazzling drive-through ceremony in February in which 1,530 students saw each other off in style.

Students donned their gowns and hats and families piled into cars where they waited for their name to be called and degrees awarded.

In June, Ajman University will be holding a drive-through graduation for the second year.

Amity University in Dubai is confident of hosting an in-person graduation later this year, thanks to its vast campus which would allow for social distancing.

"This year, we are positive that by November students will be able to enjoy an in-person graduation in the presence of their professors, family and friends," said Dr Vajahat Hussain, chief executive of Amity Education Middle East.

“Our 700,000 square foot campus is spacious enough to make this happen.

"It has been a tough year for students around the world, and celebrating this milestone is more important than ever before.”

Zayed University is weighing the options for graduation this year, but graduands will be informed on the celebratory process ahead of time.

Canadian University in Dubai displayed photos of its graduating class on the Burj Khalifa last year.

The university is yet to announce how it will be marking graduation day this year.